COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — No. 3 Ohio State overcame turnovers and a poor secondary performance to beat No. 9 Indiana 42-35 on Saturday afternoon at Ohio Stadium.
Justin Fields threw three interceptions, the same amount he threw in 14 games last season, but still threw for 300 yards on 18-of-30 passing.
Ohio State’s rushing attack was too much for the Hoosiers with the Buckeyes racking up 307 yards on the ground.
Meanwhile, OSU’s defense smothered IU’s ground game to the tune of minus-1 yard, but the secondary was exposed once again, giving up five touchdowns and nearly 500 yards.
It looked like Ohio State’s offense would breeze past Indiana after Justin Fields threw two passes for 75 yards and a touchdown on the Buckeyes’ first drive.
But Fields threw his first and second interception of the season after that drive, both in the first quarter, against an Indiana defense that leads the country in interceptions with 14.
Ohio State’s defense forced three punts and a turnover on downs on Indiana’s first four drives, but caved on the Hoosiers’ first drive of the second quarter. Michael Penix Jr. hit Miles Marshall for 68 yards and two plays later, Indiana scored on a 3-yard toss from Penix to Whop Philyor.
Ohio State’s struggles in the pass game led Ryan Day to rely on his offensive line and the rushing attack on OSU’s second and third scoring drives.
The Buckeyes took a 14-7 lead on a 41-yard run by Master Teague made possible by blocks from tight ends Luke Farrell and Jeremy Ruckert.
Ohio State ran for 60 yards on its third scoring drive, including 28 yards from Trey Sermon, a 30-yard scramble by Fields and Teague’s second touchdown of the game.
The biggest play of the first half, and arguably the whole game, came after a blown coverage by the Buckeyes that put Indiana at the OSU 13-yard line. On the next play, Penix hit David Ellis across the middle but Baron Browning punched the ball away and recovered it on the seven-yard line with 3:16 left in the half.
Ohio State promptly drove the ball 93 yards on nine plays, including 7-for-7 passing from Fields and a 9-yard rushing touchdown for the OSU captain, who leaped into the end zone to give the Buckeyes a 28-7 halftime lead.
On OSU’s first drive of the second half, Fields connected with Garrett Wilson twice, including a 9-yard touchdown reception for Wilson, who recorded his fourth-straight game with at least 100 yards receiving — second only to Cris Carter’s 1986 record of five straight games with 100-plus yards.
While Ohio State’s run defense was stout, the secondary was spotty once again. The Buckeyes’ pass defense broke down several times allowing six plays of 25 yards or more and four plays of 50 yards or more. OSU also gave up more than 200 yards receiving to Indiana’s Ty Fryfogle.
The only bright spot for the Buckeyes’ secondary was a pick-six by preseason All-American Shaun Wade. The interception gave OSU a 42-21 lead late in the third quarter.
But Wade was burnt by Fryfogle in the fourth quarter on a 56-yard touchdown catch, shrinking OSU’s lead to 42-35 with 10 minutes left in the game.
Ohio State looked like it was going to score once more but the Buckeyes were stopped on fourth-and-1 inside the red zone. OSU’s defense responded by forcing a three and out thanks to a sack by Pete Werner with less than four minutes left in the game.
The offense ran the clock down to 40 seconds and the defense finished the job to get the win.
Ohio State is set to face Illinois on the road next Saturday. A kickoff time has not been announced.